Major league camp ‘a dream’ and a learning experience for Twins top prospect Brooks Lee
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Brooks Lee is just days past his 22nd birthday. This time last year, he was still a college student, going to class at Cal Poly.
The shortstop is the youngest player in major league camp, but you might not know it by the way he carries himself on the field. Then again, there might be some signs of his age.
“I definitely look the youngest,” the top prospect said. “I’m just happy to be here. I’m happy to be the youngest one.”
Lee, who went 1 for 3 with a double in the Twins’ 10-8 loss to the Phillies on Sunday, is a coach’s son and those who spend time around him can tell. When the Twins grabbed him with the eighth overall pick in the last draft, he was said to be one of the most polished and major league ready players in the class.
So don’t let his age fool you: Lee rose quickly through the Twins system last season and could wind up in the majors sooner rather than later.
“He started his journey out in a major league spring training game, DHing, eight months, nine months, 10 months after he got drafted, so there’s a lot coming at him very quickly,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “He does not seem to be overwhelmed at all.”
He wasn’t last year, either, when he got his first taste of professional baseball.
Lee slashed .303/.389/.451 with a .839 on-base percentage in 31 games played between Rookie Ball, Class-A Advanced and Double-A, where he appeared briefly to end his season.
Reaching Double-A that quickly was a surprise to even Lee himself, he said, and getting an invite to major league camp was “a dream.”
“I had no clue it’d actually come to fruition,” Lee said. “It’s pretty freaking cool. It’s the same old game but just a lot of cooler players.”
Lee, who already has a pair of hits in his first two games — he drove in a run on Saturday — is trying to make the most of the experience, soaking in advice from those around him. That means listening to and learning from everyone around, be it Hall of Famer Paul Molitor, shortstop Carlos Correa or anyone else he can talk to.
“It doesn’t matter who they are. If they’re in big league camp, I’m looking at them,” Lee said. “ … Obviously Carlos, Joey Gallo, the guys that have been in the league for a while. Anybody who has a good head on their shoulders.”
His focus, he said, is on his footwork defensively and trying to lay off good pitches at the plate. While Lee might end up at a different position down the line, the Twins plan to leave him at shortstop this spring and let him play there.
For these few weeks, it’s just about Lee soaking up all he can. Baldelli is eager to see more of the organization’s top prospect in action — and wants Lee to come away with a better understanding of what Major League Baseball is like by the time he heads back to minor league camp.
“I think he’s going to take a lot out of the camp,” Baldelli said. “I think going through this experience is not for most young players at his age. It’s not for most guys. But I think he’s fit very well to come here into our camp and learn.”
The Twins claimed right-handed pitcher Dennis Santana off waivers from Atlanta on Sunday. The 26-year-old had a 5.22 earned-run average in 63 games last season for the Texas Rangers. To make room on the 40-man roster, Royce Lewis, who is recovering from knee surgery, was moved to the 60-day injured list. … New Twins starter Pablo López will make his first start of spring on Monday. Baldelli has said López will make two spring starts before he leaves to compete for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic.
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